Patricia Rozario (soprano) and the Fidelio Piano Trio (Darragh Morgan violin; Adi Tal cello; Mary Dullea piano) will give a charity performance in aid of Child’s Play India Foundation (www.childsplayindia.org) at Menezes Braganza Hall on 21 July 2015 6.30 pm. Donation passes available at Furtados Music in Panjim and Margao.
Could you tell us how the Fidelio Trio was born?
Darragh Morgan (DM): The Fidelio Trio came into existence in the 1990’s with myself and fellow students at The Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London. Although we have had a couple of membership changes over the past 18 years the core ideal of the group has remained constant – development of new repertoire for piano trio (we have premiered in excess of 150 new pieces) to be performed alongside masterpieces from our core classical repertoire. Our name takes itself from Beethoven’s sole opera – Fidelio.
This seems to be your first appearance in India. How has it been so far? How different or similar are our audiences to other parts of the world?
Mary Dullea (MD): We are thrilled to be in India, the first visit for all of us and the reception has been extremely warm and generous. We are thoroughly enjoying the country and the people. Our first concert was in Poona and the audience was so attentive to all of the music; you could really feel that in the hall. And that is key, to be good listeners! In talking to audience members after the performance, many expressed how absorbing they found the pieces we are performing and there is a lot of variety with the dark Russian sentiments in the Shostakovich Songs contrasting with French fireworks in the Saint-Saens. We have been made to feel at home. We are grateful to Culture Ireland for supporting our travel to make this tour possible.
How did you choose your concert programme for India? Have you performed with Patricia Rozario before?
DM: We wanted to combine a programme that featured Patricia performing with a variety of instrumental combinations from within the trio – Shostakovich is for the whole ensemble, though many movements are for voice and a solo instrument. The recent work by Jonathan Dove is for voice, violin & cello with text by the famous Indian author Vikram Seth, so this ticked a number of boxes! Haydn’s Gypsy Rondo trio is always a known popular favourite with audiences and is completely contrasting with Saint-Saens epic hyper-romantic Piano Trio No 2.
We have performed with Patricia Rozario on numerous occasions in the past. I first met Patricia in 2004 when we were both soloists for the world premiere of John Tavener’s beautiful Hymn of Dawn with The Ulster Orchestra. The Fidelio Trio invited Patricia to perform with us as part of our Wigmore Hall debut and we have since then performed together in Ireland, London, Wales, on CD and for BBC.
Over to you, Patricia. You’ll be singing Shostakovich’s Seven Romances on poems by Alexander Blok. What are your thoughts on this work?
Patricia Rozario(PR): I’ve performed this work quite a few times, with another piano trio in Vienna, and with the Fidelio trio in Ireland and at the Wigmore Hall London. It is a very powerful work. Shostakovich combines the vocal line with each instrument so beautifully! It is a truly unusual composition, brought on by the request of his friend, the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya.
Any other thoughts in particular about the Shostakovich? Am I right in believing it is not performed so often?
MD: The Shostakovich is a very special piece which we have performed a number of times with Patricia. We always enjoy the opportunity to expand the Piano Trio to include other instruments such as Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with clarinet, Beethoven Folk Songs or sometimes Piano Quartets. This work by Shostakovich is not performed that often and is quite a late work, from 1967. It encompasses many emotions of love and intimacy as well as darker undertones in the theme of night time and is a true tribute to musical friendships. The cellist Rostropovich asked Shostakovich in 1967 to write a vocalise for him and his wife, Galina Vishnevskaya. The result was the first song, Ophelia. This was quickly followed by the second for voice and piano and the third for violin and voice, the invited friend being David Oistrakh. The cycle continued to grow with the various combinations and all four performers come together finally in the seventh and final song, Music.
And the Jonathan Dove composition ‘Minterne’ was written expressly for you, wasn’t it, Patricia? Dove has admitted on his website to being an admirer of your “ravishing voice” from the first time he heard you, many years ago.
PR: Yes, when the work was conceived, setting the poems of Vikram Seth to music, it was written for my voice, and with Steven Isserlis (cello) and Philippe Honoré (violin). It is such a joy to perform it to the Goan public, who I am sure, will love it.
Any other comments about the programme?
Adi Tal (AT): It is really wonderful for us to collaborate with another artist such as Patricia Rozario, who brings a different flavour to our performance, as we are used to touring on our own mostly as a group.
The first half of the programme, consisting of the witty Haydn ‘Gypsy Trio’ and the 7 Shostakovich Romances based on poems by Alexander Blok, works well together as Shostakovich’s writing is rather classical and texturally transparent.
The second half has a great romantic flare to it, pairing two unusual works that aren’t often performed, consisting of Jonathan Dove ‘Minterne’ for Soprano, Violin and Cello based on four poems by Vikram Seth, originally written for Patricia Rozario, and Saint Säens Trio No. 2, a rather eclectic 5 movement work.
Both pieces have an unusual movement structure, which makes it the more challenging but at the same time interesting for us to work on.
Tell us a little about your introduction to music. Were there musicians in your family?
DM: My parents had an old 3/4 size violin that used to sit beneath the piano stool in our house in Belfast, N Ireland and my mother decided to put it to good use! Although my parents aren’t musicians, there were always a lot of visual artists, actors, writers and composers in our house, often at parties as my father is an Irish poet. My grandfather who encouraged me a lot (including numerous regular private performances for him) had been a boy soprano soloist.
Being a musician is a wonderful special gift, though carrying this through to a successful professional career can be challenging. I am married to Mary, our pianist and we have two young children who are both now learning instruments – and that’s where the real challenge begins, encouraging an 8 year old to practise when you have just come from “work”!
MD: I started piano lessons at the age of 8 as did all my siblings but I am the only one of 7 to have continued to become a professional musician. There was a piano in the house although I am from a farming background and my mother was a teacher. I was fortunate from the age of 14 to have lessons in Cork School of Music which was my nearest city and that’s when I really began to play and explore serious repertoire. I moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music which was a wonderful time for me as I had an inspirational teacher in Yonty Solomon whose words and imagery stay with me to this day.
AT: I grew up in a family of musicians. My father is principle flutist of Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and my mother is a pianist and a piano teacher.
I used to go with my father to his concerts and meet the soloists that came to play with the orchestra back stage. I was quite taken by their artistic spirit and started learning the piano with my mother at the age of 5. She then picked the cello for me at 7, as it was her favourite instrument she never got to play. I fell in love with it instantly!
As a child I practiced between 3 and 4 hours daily. Those are the most important years of forming a good establishment with the instrument. As I get older I realise I do have to practice just as much in order to cover the amount of repertoire I perform, but the constant travels, concerts and rehearsal schedule unfortunately does not always allow that, so I am thankful for having those years where I could focus solely on that.
In the trio, we rehearse about 5 hours together every time we meet. We have a wide range of repertoire we are constantly working on, and are always trying to be ahead of our next concert/tour as our programmes are always varied.
The feeling is always satisfying at the end, so it’s all worth the hours of practice we put in when we finally get on stage and can be free to be spontaneous, as a result of building a strong musical bond between the three of us.
Over the course of my career I met with so many wonderful teachers and people who’ve inspired me to continue and explore every piece of music I perform. Amongst them were renowned cellist Steven Isserlis, with whom I have taken many classes and collaborated with, my former teacher Ralph Kirshbaum, who taught me all about the concept of timing in music (and in life!) and how to remain calm on stage, and Pianist Andras Schiff who has been a great role model as a musician and someone who is a hundred percent genuinely devoted to their art.
(An edited version of this article was published on 16 July 2015 in the Buzz section of the Navhind Times Goa India)